Just an Arm’s Distance

Covers on, too hot

Windows open, too cold

Volume a notch up, too loud

One down, too down


So then a middle ground-

Stick out a leg

Open the window just a crack

Muster up all your willpower, you lazy

and slide that volume bar to the middle ground


Too honest, too brutal

Too fake, too disgusting

Too close, too painful

Too distant, too lonely


So then an arm’s distance-

Stick out an arm

Keep an arm’s distance

and the damage is only that arm’s distance


Just an arm’s distance-

What I use to keep myself from getting hurt

Dump it all on me, little peony

Why hello, precious little peony,

What can I help you with today?

Oh I see. You’ve got a little boo-boo on your tushy

Come hither, vent everything to me, you may


Why, little peony, is the world too tough for you?

Perhaps your greenhouse kept you from the cold and from what’s real

Sweet pea, you look so blue

Oh, I see. You’ve invited yourself to my quarters to heal


Why, little peony, of course I’m always happy

I’m no shrub from the tundra but I am a strong little cactus, I’ll say

You can’t see past my silly front so I’m always so carefree, never sappy

Sweet pea, you’ve never lived the real, ugly, merciless world that I have – you’ve never had a real price to pay


Why there, little peony, of course your little ordeal is worth so much drama

This is the most exciting confrontation of your life, after all

But little do you know, I go through the ugliness of poverty and crisis – the actual drama

Little do you know how it feels like to lose it all, then slowly work to death to earn it all


Why, little peony, little do you know that I never had the time to battle emotions

Just bottle it up

Never had the luxury to wallow in sentiments

Just moved on and kept my head up

Baker’s Edge

I wonder how many batters I’ve made

trying to finally find that one perfect recipe

No, not even perfect. Perfection is too much for me to ask, my mate

Just something that’ll satiate my undying desire to make a decent cookie

First blame the recipe from online

Then doubt the oven

But maybe it was the impatience that made the cookies rather sublime

Or the overuse of baking soda that turned the cookies into mutant muffins

I’m not giving up – just taking a break

Looking for other things to do in the meanwhile

There’s more opportunities for me to bake

I’ll make my break worthwhile

“Get close enough to have fun but not too close to get hurt”

It’s so easy to “catch feelings”, to give feelings for someone, to accept people into your life after a while. We’re all humans after all and to desire social interaction is only part of our nature. That’s probably the one takeaway I’ve had in my high school AP Psychology.

Over the years, however, I’ve realized how social relationships is one of the easiest, yet one of the most difficult aspects of life. It’s relatively easy to filter out individuals who may not be our cup of tea – gradual distancing, different viewpoints, avoidance, etc. What if those you befriend end up being a lot more different than what you thought?

There are only a few friends I can confide a lot more than I would to others. In fact, so few that I don’t even need the digits on a single hand to count them. Most people judge so much that you eventually learn how much easier it is to just put a slightly false layer to cover up the “monster” inside of you. Only with the rare gem of an non-judging and equally jacked-up of a friend can you really talk to with little to no filtering.

Of course, some givens are gifts to us. If you happen to have a great and supportive family, that’s your reserve. They’re probably those who would embrace you regardless of your situation and persona. That’s when it comes down to those who you value and should actually give feelings to – for the givens, reciprocate the unconditional love. For others, treat them exactly as they treat you and you’ll get hurt a little less.

Sometimes, it’s really easy to get hung up on certain individuals. You’d like them to stick around for life and be your close companion for years’ end. But I’ve realized that you’ve sometimes got to let those desires go. People come and go. And hanging on to the string of hope that you create with your delusion isn’t the best thing you can do for yourself. Maybe it’s something about your personality. And perhaps that personality came from your previous experiences that cumulatively shaped who you are right now. But maybe that’s the best form that you function in.

Life’s too short to invest in unequal relationships. If you sense something not working out, take an arm’s distance back and regain the emotional personal space. And like the quote whose origin I cannot recall, “get close enough to have fun but not too close to get hurt”.

Default Friend

Plan B,

I’m the one you go to when your options have been depleted

When you want something different from the usual

When you want to take a break from those you need to impress

Back up,

You’re the one I go to when I’m in dire need for someone I can be real with

When I want to embrace and be embraced

When I want some fun in my otherwise boring day

Side ho,

I’m the one you go to when your other friends are busy

When you feel like staying local and winding down

When you want to spend less effort but reap much admiration

Default friend

Never the first option, never the one that first pops into your head

Never the one you spill all of your frivolous stories to

Never the one you talk to the most

Never really an equal relationship

Never really just a low-maintenance friend

But always the unchanging constant to rely on

Crispy Fried Chicken Tan

I never really took sunscreen seriously. I was never the type to get freckles or start peeling off in three minutes. So the greasy goo wasn’t such an appealing summer necessity. The crispy fried chicken golden tan was the status of my desire and I just wanted to achieve what my friends were able to.
So one summer, I decided to dedicate half an hour each day to bake in the sun. I put on my swimsuit, applied no sunscreen whatsoever, and thought that I was ready to get that golden glow by the end of the month.
30 minutes in the merciless sun at 2PM was probably not the best idea ever. My legs took the first hit and they felt like they were literally getting sizzled. My legs could empathize with the worms burning and shriveling into little stringets in the sun.
I ended up tapping out after one week. The heat was too much to handle, and my body felt like it was sizzling. I also didn’t really enjoy the part where my vision turned green and cloudy after sun exposure and how some parts of my skin actually did end up getting sunburnt.
Did I ever achieve that crispy fried chicken tan I was going for? Nope.
I had this lovely gray-hue coloring that went away in the next few weeks of indoor life.

Past the Smile

You smile as if nothing happened

As if this breaking news isn’t breaking your world

You smile as if the article you’re reading is truly humorous

As if it was truly funny enough to distract you

You smile as if you weren’t hurt

As if the careless words people vomit on you

and repercussions of others’ stupid actions didn’t hurt you

You smile as if you’re all right

As if I don’t see past the smile

But I now know you enough to see past your smile

The pained smile that you put on like an armor

The Wonder Woman you feign to be

The sacrifices you make trying to reassure me

so that I could have a peace of mind

I see past the smile

Nervous Habit

Some people tend to shake their legs, tap the table, or pull on their hairs when nervous. I pick the sides of my nailbeds. It’s rather unflattering and prone to infections. Yet, it’s a habit I have tried to break to no avail.
After all, I used to be a nail-biter for the vast majority of my childhood. My ma tried for so long to break my habit but gave up. And I think it was the giving up that scared me into stopping what I once thought was impossible. 

I thought I’d give myself this one break for my nervous habit. Yes, my bloody thumbs look rather disturbing. But if this one little trick could keep me from stress-throwing up and from spontaneously falling asleep, you got a little deal. 

Band Geek, Almost a Band Leak

So my high school band always participated in this end-of-the-year competition hosted by a neighboring school district. Given that the event was held sometime around April, the weather was starting to warm up. We had to wait around outdoors for a solid four hours until we got to perform, then it was another three hours until the other ensembles had their turns, and one more hour to go over the results, awards, etc.

As students, we didn’t mind too much. For all we cared, we didn’t go to four of our classes for the day.

So as I’ve mentioned, it was a rather warm day. I drank quite a bit of water to stay hydrated. All was well until it was time to go back to our school via the school bus. About seven minutes into the ride, it happened. I had to go pee, and I had to go pee pretty bad. And this is the thing about pee urges – the more you think about it, the stronger the urge gets. And this urge was completely different from the usual. The circumstance was completely different from the usual. I was in a damn 40-minute bus ride for heaven’s sake.

So this is how I’m gonna die. I’m gonna pee in this bus, and I’ll be forever branded as “the band kid who peed in the bus”. I’ll have to transfer schools. Yeah, I’ll just pee now and transfer schools with a fresh slate. Wait, social media though. People will still know. They can take pics. Or videos. And post it online and ohmygod.

Then, the bus got off the freeway and took the next exit. What the heck?

“One of our buses broke down, so we’re pulling over and rearranging seats,” said one of the chaperones. The students (who were awake) craned their necks to see the smoke from the bus next to ours.

Thank you, thank you thank you thank you thank you.

And what great luck to stop at a neighborhood high school, and what great luck that the school and its restrooms were still open at 8PM because they had a home basketball game going on.